With a hat-tip to Cardscrazy247, who first mentioned the news, Arizona General Manager Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson have been rewarded for this season's success, by having their contracts reworked this afternoon. Both men were given three-year deals, running through 2014, with the team having the option to extend the deal through 2016 - that decision must be made at the end of the season after next. The move follows on the heels of last week's contract extensions for the coaching staff, who are all signed through 2013.
The move hardly comes as much surprise after Towers and Gibson teamed up to help generate the biggest turnaround in fortunes by a National League club since 1999, taking the Diamondbacks from last to first in the National League West. Here's what Derrick Hall had to say about the moves.
I have always been impressed with KT's relationship and experience and ability. But this year, I was absolutely blown away with Kirk Gibson... He proved that he's going to be one of the elite managers in this game. The results on the field were nice and unexpected, but watching the dynamic between them [Gibson and Towers] was a sign for extreme optimism... To me, I feel very fortunate to have Kevin Towers and Kirk Gibson as part of my team.
I do have to view these with a slightly-jaundiced eye, not least because we still had both their predecessors under contract. A.J. Hinch's deal lasted a season and a half longer than he did, and we will be paying Josh Byrnes through 2015, even while he spends the next four years GM'ing the San Diego Padres. Wish my bossess were willing to give me a contract that paid out, even if they subsequently felt the need to fire me.... But it does go to show that contracts are not necessarily a guarantee of future employment, never mind success. Those who own baseball teams have short memories.
Bob Melvin can attest to that. He led Arizona to the National League Championship Series in 2007, but then found himself seeking a new position one season plus 29 games later, the team having sputtered to a 94-97 record in the meantime. I think Gibson does have a bit more job security, with this team's peripherals making them much closer to a 'legitimate' 90-win team than the 2007 side, who were outscored by the opposition. Plus this version is less likely to be hamstrung by large prior commitments: the 2007 version were on the hook for about $30 million to Randy Johnson, Doug Davis and Eric Byrnes; who combined for 3.2 bWAR the next year.
That said, our bench is looking like an AARP convention right now, with Geoff Blum (39 in April), John McDonald (37) and Henry Blanco (40) occupying three of the five spots.Ok, none of them actually played alongside Gibby - but both Blum and Blanco were team-mates of Orlando Merced, who did (on the 1992 Pirates - yep, that's Cap'n Kirk hitting lead-off...). No shortage of experience there, shall we say - I personally hope that any remaining signings or acquisitions made this winter, skew at least somewhat younger. After all, how much "veteran presence" does one team need?
Maybe that's the point. Perhaps "veteraninesss" is the new undervalued commodity as far as Towers is concerned, with experience a market inefficiency which can be leveraged. And it could be a well-hidden one, because the impact would only be visible in he numbers produced by other players around them? For instance, Henry Blanco's "worth" was not just the 1.1 bWAR he personally provided, but a component of the improvement in Miguel Montero's bWAR from 1.1 to 4.5. Just a thought; certainly, given the improvement posted by Arizona in 2011, it's hard to deny Gibson and Towers found magic somewhere down the back of the sofa.